Ø Food and Drink
Ø Sexual intercourse
Ø Masturbation (most Muslim scholars believe this is forbidden even when not fasting)
Ø Deliberately causing themselves to vomit
Ø Foul language, negative actions or thoughts
Ø If any of these things listed above are done deliberately, a Muslim’s fast will be broken.
As I write these very words I’m also watching my Muslim sisters and brothers (shout-out to Tariq and Brak!) observe the Holy month of Ramadan. I can’t help but think that the other Abrahamic religions are missing out on an incredible opportunity to recharge their spiritual batteries thru prayer, fasting and self-denial. If not now, when? I believe that the world is simply addicted to “material realism” and because of this addiction we refuse to deny ourselves of anything—especially those very things that often lead to our suffering.
Luke 14:25-33 ~ “If anyone comes to me without ‘hating’ his father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be a disciple of mine. The man who will not take up his cross and follow in my footsteps cannot be my disciple. If any of you wanted to build a tower, wouldn’t he first sit down and work out the cost of it, to see if he can afford to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and found himself unable to complete the building, everyone who sees it will begin to jeer at him, saying, “this is the man who started to build a tower but couldn’t finish it!” So it is with you; only the man who says good bye to his possessions can be my disciple.”
You may argue that the Christian equivalent to Ramadan is Lent, but to this I must respectfully disagree. True, once upon a time Christians would actually give up all food during this period of preparation for Easter (much like Ramadan) but now most folks will only volunteer to give up chocolate, dairy or something else they can do without over the 40 day period. But not all food! Just imagine the brotherhood and global significance if all the Abrahamic religions fasted for one month at the same time? Wow!
It’s no secret that food is essential to our survival, but over the years we’ve begun to use it as a form of comfort, medication and even as a replacement to fill a spiritual void. Since the growth of agriculture more than 10,000 years ago, man has always had an abundance of food that led to our deteriorating health and fitness level. Prior to planting crops and raising livestock, our forefathers were hunters & gatherers that had to daily set out and find food or risk starvation. Maintaining body fat was simply a natural method of avoiding starvation during winter months and other periods where food was scarce to find. With the advent of agriculture, we are now flush with food, and as a result it slowly became an addiction that even today keeps many of us in bondage. Fasting is an excellent method of freeing ourselves from this detrimental over-dependency.
About the Author: James Hackley earned a B.S. degree in Physics from Longwood College and an M.S. degree in Engineering from the University of Virginia. He faithfully attends Holy & Whole Life Changing Ministries International in Lansdowne, Va., and his latest book, Body, Mind & Spirit: The Awakening can be purchased by visiting him at www.jameshackley.com , www.Amazon.com, and http://www.barnesandnoble.com.